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March 2023

  1. Michelle Mildenhall: British artist creating unique portraits from latex

    Many Libidex fans will be aware that all our latex garments are made with latex from our sister company Radical Rubber, one of the world’s largest supplier of sheet latex intended specifically for clothing manufacture.

    However, a very talented British artist by the name of Michelle Mildenhall has been proving for more than a decade now that sheet latex can have other creatively fetishistic applications too!

    Based on England’s south coast, Michelle creates pop art style portraits — many of them with kinky themes — using the very same sheet latex that the scene’s top designers use for their garments.

    Michelle first experimented with latex as an art medium while studying textiles and surface pattern at Somerset College of Arts. But it was only later, while working as a commercial graphic artist in London, that she saw the potential for using latex to “create something unique in the art world”.

    “The idea came in a flash of inspiration while I was working on a latex outfit for myself,” she reveals. She began experimenting with building up images by layering carefully cut pieces of latex in a way that created highly stylised portraits — kinky caricatures, you might even call them — from a minimal number of elements and a narrow palette of colours.

    Her portraits range from instantly recognisable figures such as Queen Elizabeth. David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Thatcher and Vladimir Putin (some given humorous makeovers), to various more fetishy or BDSM-themed characters (for which she is sometimes also the model), such as gagged, blindfolded, collared, masked or hooded women.

    Her portraits are created first as large originals in layered latex, and these original pieces can be purchased. But she also makes archival photographic images of each piece, and these are used not only to recreate any latex original should one be requested, but also to produce more affordable print versions on fine art paper, ready for framing.

    Michelle’s work is regularly exhibited ‘in the flesh’ in the UK and beyond, both at mainstream galleries and venues or events with more of an alternative association. He most recent work, Guardsman?, featuring a ceremonial royal guard wearing a bearskin, lipstick and eye shadow, was created for the exhibition Women of Mass Distraction, which runs until April 6 at Stella Dore Gallery in St Leonards, East Sussex.

    Meanwhile at London’s East Art Gallery in Hackney Wick until April 7, Michelle has two original latex pieces alongside some handmade spanking paddles and some prints in the gallery’s Kink exhibition, which also features the work of 40 other artists of pervy inclination.

    Michelle Mildenhall with her latest latex portrait “Guardsman?’

    Michelle Mildenhall’s latest latex portrait ‘Guardsman?’ poses gender-bending question!

    Michelle Mildenhall’s graphic for East Art Gallery’s Kink group show including her work

    Handmade spanking paddle featuring detail from Michelle’s ‘Pervy Pussy’ portrait

    Michelle Mildenhall print selection featuring some of her pervier images

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  2. ZDR forced to cancel Gods & Monsters party after licence withdrawn

     Fetish fans in London and beyond who were looking forward this week to attending ZDR’s Gods & Monsters event on Saturday (March 25) at Ruby Blue, just off Leicester Square, were dismayed to be told on Tuesday that the party had been cancelled.

    In an emotional message to ticketholders and newsletter subscribers, organiser Zara DuRose explained that she’d received a call from the venue management informing her that the licence for the event had been pulled, as a result of which Ruby Blue could no longer host the party.

    For well-known latex enthusiast Zara, it was the final blow after four months of planning that, she says, were “the most stressful since I started organising events in 2015”.

    “We’ve had multiple venue changes for reasons beyond our control,” she continues. “Mainly due to council restrictions and complaints sent to venues about adult events shortly after we announced the move.”

    Gods & Monsters was originally set to go ahead at new venue The Forge in Camden. But owing to licensing issues, ZDR had to look for a replacement venue and, on January 24, announced a move to The Dome in Tufnell Park.

    A week later, realising the Dome was actually too small to accommodate Gods & Monsters as envisaged, ZDR announced a second move, this time to an unnamed “spectacular warehouse location” in Manor House.

    But that also fell through. However Ruby Blue, in the heart of London’s West End, looked like it would finally be able to provide the welcome this seemingly jinxed event so badly needed.

    “When we met with the management,” says Zara, “they were aware of the nature of ZDR events. We were completely transparent and they were happy to host us.”

    Sadly though, both sides may have underestimated the opposition to fetish events that seems to be spreading among London councils — and which already had a long history in Westminster (the council Ruby Blue comes under).

    At such short notice, there was no possibility of finding yet another replacement venue on the same date, so ZDR took the decision to refund everyone’s ticket money via Eventbrite.

    Zara is of course aware that ticket refunds alone can only ever be partial compensation for anyone who bought new outfits for the party, or booked non-refundable travel and/or accommodation. She also points out there’s “a huge team of people and performers who will lose out financially”.

    Naturally she’s worried about the effect this succession of forced venue changes and the ultimate cancellation of Gods & Monsters could have on trust in her brand.

    But in the last few years, fetish folk have grown accustomed to event promoters across the whole scene suffering venue problems beyond their control. So we doubt ZDR’s legion of fans will blame her for what’s just happened.

    ZDR is already planning its next London event for June, promising that it will be organised on a different basis that it hopes will overcome the problems experienced while trying to host Gods & Monsters.

    And if anyone needs a reminder that ZDR definitely does have what it takes to stage a first class event, may we refer you to last November’s much-acclaimed UK Fetish Awards which it co-hosted.

    And we’re not just saying this because Libidex won Best UK Clothing Company there for the second year running. We think you probably already knew that anyway!

    Zara DuRose: forced to cancel ZDR Gods & Monsters party after license was pulled

    Ava Von Medisin was due to host a kinky installation at ZDR Gods & Monsters

    Aerial performer Mala Sangre was due to appear at ZDR Gods & Monsters

    ZDR Gods & Monsters flyer image detail featuring Zara DuRose

    Zara DuRose (far left) with Libidex winners of Best UK Clothing Company at 2022 UK Fetish Awards

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  3. Libidex Blog Celebrity No.2: Beatrix Devine from Dallas TX, USA

    Fetish model, make-up artist and performer Beatrix Devine confesses that she’s been “addicted to latex” since first trying it on in early 2020.

    Now, she travels all around North America modelling for latex brands, appearing at a variety of fetish events throughout the year.

    At the time of writing, she’d just come off the runway at March’s New Orleans Fetish Ball, where she’d walked for one of the fetish scene’s longest and most respected corsetry brands, Dark Garden Unique Corsetry.

    The previous weekend, she could be seen at the last ever edition of Houston’s Texas Latex Party, which has closed its doors after 30 years. She was walking for Dark Garden and Reneé Masoomian’s Baby Loves Latex brand.

    At TLP, Beatrix also helped represent Dan Miga Designs, a new Dallas-based latex and leather brand founded by Miga and model Angela Ryan, at which Beatrix currently holds the joint positions of latex apprentice and IT manager!

    Ms Devine is also a classical soprano and songwriter, and has been working with New York fetish impresario and music producer Xris SMack on a “genre-bending” music project to be released later this year.

    Our photographs, shot by NYC-based Mark Maker Productions, feature Beatrix in her third Libidex catsuit — our Phantasm Inflatable Breast Catsuit.

    “I love my Libidex catsuits and I can't wait to collect more!” she enthuses.

    “I wore this gorgeous catsuit to last year’s Torture Garden Los Angeles event, styled in a ‘Malibu Barbie’ fashion with long blonde hair, pink and purple make-up, and shiny pink high heels.

    “I got so many compliments on the fit of the catsuit, as well as the pink racer stripe details down the front and back. It was a hot summer night, but so worth it! I became my very own slip-n-slide!”

    Between April and October this year, Beatrix already has around a dozen further appearances scheduled in cities including Chicago, Houston, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, St Petersburg and Detroit, and doubtless more will be added to this list.

    We’re not sure when we might see Ms Devine in person at a UK fetish event. But in the USA, it looks like it will be hard to miss her in 2023!

    Image: Mark Maker Productions in Queens, NY.

    Image: Mark Maker Productions in Queens, NY.

    Image: Mark Maker Productions in Queens, NY.

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  4. Avellano takes lion’s share of latex honours at Paris Fashion Week


    At Paris Fashion Week nowadays, it seems to be not so much a question of if there’ll be any latex on show, but how much latex will be on show.

    That was certainly the case at the PFW that finished in Paris earlier this week. And it would be fair to say the latex designer’s name on everyone’s lips at this event was Paris-based Arthur Avellano, who presented one of the Week’s final collections on Tuesday March 7.

    Avellano’s young clothing brand has been gradually increasing its profile in celebrity fashion circles since Kanye West bought an Avellano coat as a gift for Julia Fox. The label’s creations soon started turning up on other celebs such as Kim Kardashian, Camille ‘Emily in Paris’ Razat and Katy Perry.

    In late January, a month before the Paris fashion fest, the audience at London’s famous Heaven nightclub got an eyeful of Avellano’s design style (and more) when Rita Ora performed there in a figure-hugging trans pink one-shoulder gown from his Spring/Summer 2023 collection.

    Underneath it, her modesty was preserved — as the tabloids say — by a thong and pasties. But, as one fashion pundit enthused, the transparent latex ensured that you could see all her tattoos. Yes — all of them!

    But even Parisians didn’t have to wait for Tuesday’s official Avellano show to see his creativity on display. On Wednesday, Julia Fox turned up at PFW’s MAC event in a bright red Avellano latex coat and matching high-neck, floor-length gown that could have stopped traffic a kilometer away.

    Tight on the body then flaring over the hips, and very shiny, this combo was seen in black in Avellano’s  show, modelled by Munroe Bergdorf.

    Not to be outdone, singer Noah Cyrus turned up to a couple of PFW events sporting shaved eyebrows and two different full-length Avellano latex styles: a fitted grey dress with matching coat and a blue, high-neck, backless floor-sweeping gown.

    Avellano’s latest show displayed an impressive imagination at work, with smooth and draped latex and eye-catching body-con styles.

    He has certainly been making good use of traditional and alternative iterations of latex, with garments in 3D-printed latex and Datex, a fabric-backed latex that can be sewn.

    But perhaps smartest of all, given his target market of affluent fashionistas with little time for the preparatory rituals rubber-lovers enjoy, he employs chlorination, which gives latex an outer sheen that doesn’t need polishing and inner surfaces that don’t require talc or lube to aid dressing.

    Couture as a term has been over-used by latex brands in the past. But you can see why Avellano lays claim to it — and prices his creations accordingly!

    Singer Rita Ora in figure-hugging, trans-pink, one-shoulder Avellano latex dress worn for her Heaven show

    Julia Fox in Avellano’s bright red high-neck, floor length latex gown and matching latex coat at PFW’s MAC event

    Noah Cyrus at two PFW events sporting Avellano fitted grey latex dress with matching coat, and blue high-neck, backless, floor-length gown

    (Photo: Avellano. Model: @claude.emmanuelle)

    (Photo: Avellano. Model: @calm.otter)

    (Photo: Avellano. Model: @its_jaday2)

    (Photo: Avellan. Model: Ushka)

    (Photo: Avellano. Model: Munroe Bergdorf)

    (Photo: Avellano. Model: @lise.sauve_)

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  5. Le Boutique Bazaar pops up for the last time this season with April 2’s ‘Wild Spring’ event

    Next to our own LIbidex PopUp shops held at our Islington headquarters, our favourite London pop-up fetish/alt-fashion retailing event (with the emphasis on fashion) has to be Le Boutique Bazaar.

    Launched in late 2014 as a joint venture between the organisers of Torture Garden and Wasted Chic, these seasonal events started out at McQueen in Shoreditch before relocating to current venue For Your Eyes Only, a large and friendly poledancing club a mere fling of a stripper’s thong from Old Street Station.

    LBB events happen just a few times a year, in the main autumn/winter/spring fetish partying seasons, and generally in the run-up to Torture Garden’s biggest events of the year, which tend to create solid demand for impactful new outfit pieces.

    Wild Spring, the last Boutique Bazaar of the current season, is due to take place on April 2, just under three weeks before TG’s two Birthday Ball events at Scala (April 21) and Electrowerkz (April 22). As usual, this Sunday afternoon market will house a varied selection of 50-plus ‘kink artisan’ vendors ranging from latex clothing brands to designers of lingerie, corsetry, all manner of kink-influenced accessories from headdresses to harnesswear, and toys.

    A favourite destination of stylists, models, performers, fetishistas and fashionistas, LBB is seen by many of its fans as being as much a social event as a shopping opportunity. There’s no dresscode but many visitors do dress-up for it, and even if you’re only there for browsing and chatting, it can make for a very stimulating Sunday afternoon out. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to meet and talk to many designers face-to-face, and many of the vendors are set up to take orders for items that aren’t on their rails, and measure you up for custom pieces.

    Last but not least, a recent LBB-related innovation is the online Charmskool Shop. On the Charmskool website and Instagram page, many of the items sold by LBB vendors are available to those who can’t make it to one of the live pop-up events.

    Ada Zanditon Couture metallic PVC modelled by @nishsaranisha (Photo: @frankinsella)

    Bound By Ceca harness lingerie in PVC -@missrubyalexiasg


    Crystals N Couture Lingerie and leather

    (Photo: @hyder_images)

    Figure of A designer Anna Kii models one of her rope harnesses

    (Photo: @bobette_bobettexx)

    Men’s latex and leather by @jacklondongear

    (Photo: @hyder_images)

    Kraken Counter Couture latex

    (Photo: @hyder_images)

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